I write fanfiction — guilty pleasure. Worse, it’s crossover fanfiction -only just above ‘slash’ on the scale of silliness! I know it’s silly, but I enjoy it. I enjoy creating Alternate Universes in which Professor Snape dons jeans and a leather jacket for a night on the town with Wolverine. I like to think of the look on the face of an ardent HP fan when I reveal that Dumbledore has been an agent of HYDRA since the 1940s, or that Hermione Granger is descended from Sherrinford Holmes (Sherlock and Mycrofts’ less famous brother).
On a (slightly) more serious level I like to explore the possibilities of a confrontation between Dr Fu Manchu and The Shadow in Jazz Age New York. Or perhaps an alliance between Robert E Howards’ Solomon Kane and the Phantom -the Ghost Who Walks. Or what happened when a young Minerva McGonagall encountered some very dangerous statues and a mad muggle in a blue box!
So yes, it’s my hobby, and I enjoy it. I post the stories online and if people read them and enjoy them, good! If they read them and don’t enjoy them, no loss of epidermis from my proboscis, as it were.
So, what’s the problem here? Other people, as you might have guessed. Two kinds of other people, actually.
The usual kind are the ones who call me a ‘sad git’. The ones who don’t understand why I can’t get a proper hobby, or a better way to spend my spare time. What do you mean by a proper hobby, I ask, or a better way to spend time? Gardening? I do a bit of gardening, but that is my wifes’ department. I laid the patio and put the edging in. I mow the lawns and dig holes where she tells me to. But the actual plants, where they go and what kinds, is up to her — she enjoys it and I’m not going to muscle in on it. Sports? All my life I’ve suffered with poor co-ordination -they call it dyspraxia now, back in the 60s they just told me I was clumsy -so that's not an option. Follow a soccer team? Tedious beyond belief. Read? I do that all the time, where do you think I get the ideas from? Work on the car? It works perfectly well, thank you, and I have no intention of messing it up with ill-considered tinkering.
And just so everyone knows, I object to being referred to as a ‘sad git’ by somebody who points out my StarFleet Academy t-shirt whilst wearing a Coventry City FC one. What makes me any more sad than him?
But that I can cope with. I’ve been a nerd all my life. It’s the others who are worse. The ones who say “You have such a wonderful imagination, and you write so well! Why don’t you write original fiction and get it published?”
What? Spoil my hobby by making it into work? You’re having a giraffe, right? OK, so I am reasonably imaginative, and yes I’m a competent writer, possibly. I have written some original fiction, and it’s staying on my hard drive. Why? Because I don’t want it out there. I don’t want the stress and hassle of sending work off to publishers to be rejected. Nor do I want to depend for my living on the ever-changing, amorphous entity that is popular opinion. I have a steady job, I write for fun, end of.
Besides, I don’t want to write the stuff folk seem to want to read. If I write about a detective solving a murder, that’s what I write about. I don’t care about his fracturing marriage, his incipient alcoholism or his strained relationship with whichever parent is currently drifting into senility. I want to watch him hunt down the bad guy. If I write High Fantasy I want it to be about Kings and Knights facing Dark Lords, if it’s Swords and Sorcery then I like the idea of a barbarian with iron muscles and a mind (and tongue) as sharp as his sword. What I don’t want to write (or read), is a tedious bildungsroman about a girl with mysterious powers and a boy with the IQ of a garden snail saving the world from ecological disaster.
So, thanks for the compliment (though I feel your critical skills need some honing), but I’ll stick to what I’m doing. I’m doing this for me, not for you nor anyone else. Read if you like, enjoy if you can, but it’s only a hobby.